1. Insulin biosynthesis in isolated rat islets of Langerhans was determined by the incorporation of [3H]leucine into newly synthesized islet proteins. Anti-insulin serum covalently coupled to a solid phase (CNBr-activated Sepharose 4B) was used to separate the immunoreactive proinsulin and insulin from other islet proteins. This method was applied to a study of the regulation of insulin biosynthesis in isolated rat islets of Langerhans during pregnancy, and immediately after a period of food deprivation. 2. Islets isolated from pregnant rats showed an increased basal rate of synthesis compared with the non-pregnant controls. In addition, they showed a significant increase in biosynthesis of proinsulin and insulin in comparison with the normal islets over a range of glucose concentrations of 2–20mm. 3. Addition of the phosphodiesterase inhibitor 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine significantly increased the insulin-synthetic response of normal islets over the glucose range 5–20mm, so that their glucose response approached that of islets from pregnant rats. 4. Normal female rates were injected with a long-acting progesterone derivative (hydroxyprogesterone hexanoate), to investigate the role of progesterone on the increased insulin biosynthesis observed in islets in pregnancy. There appeared to be no marked difference in insulin biosynthesis between the islets from the progesterone-injected and control rats in the presence of 2mm- or 6mm-glucose alone. However, in the presence of 4mm- or 6mm-glucose and 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine there was a significant increase in insulin biosynthesis in the progesterone-treated animals. 5. Total islet protein biosynthesis was determined by the incorporation of [3H]leucine into trichloroacetic acid-precipitable islet proteins. Islets isolated from normal rats showed a 1.6-fold increase in incorporation over the glucose concentration range 2–20mm, and this value remained unchanged during starvation; however, rates of incorporation were significantly raised in islets isolated from pregnant rats in the presence of 20mm-glucose. 6. Islets from starved and fed control rats were incubated in the presence of increasing concentrations of glucose or glucose+3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine. The islets isolated from the starved animals showed a diminished insulin-synthetic response to glucose as compared with the controls; this response was partially restored to normal values by elevation of cyclic AMP concentrations by using 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine. 7. It is suggested that the alterations in glucose-stimulated insulin biosynthesis observed in islets during pregnancy and after a period of starvation could be attributable, at least in part, to a long-term alteration of the cyclic AMP system, and in pregnancy to a direct or indirect effect of progesterone on β-cell function.

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